Evangelicals Are Addicted To Porn
Press Release / ChristiaNet 7aug2006
If there could be one place protected from the cancerous infection of pornography and sexual misconducts, one would assume that the Christian church would be that sanctuary. But, recent research is revealing that no one is immunized against the vice-grip clutches of sexual addictive behaviors. The people who struggle with the repeated pursuit of sexual gratification include church members, deacons, staff, and yes, even clergy. And, to the surprise of many, a large number of women in the church have become victim to this widespread problem. Recently, the world's most visited Christian portal, ChristiaNet.com, conducted a survey asking site visitors eleven questions about their personal sexual conduct. Survey results are eye-popping and expose the truth about who is and who is not at risk for developing an ongoing problem with certain repeated sexual acts. Survey says - immunity does not exist.
Amazingly, there were one thousand responses to the poll conducted by ChristiaNet.com. ChristiaNet.com partnered with Second Glance Ministries in evaluating the poll responses and it seems the Christian community is struggling with many of the same "temptations" that the secular society is faced with.
"The poll results indicate that 50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women are addicted to pornography," said Clay Jones, founder and President of Second Glance Ministries whose ministry objectives include providing people with information which will enable them to fully understand the impact of today's societal issues. 60% of the women who answered the survey admitted to having significant struggles with lust, 40% admitted to being involved in sexual sin in the past year, and 20% of the church-going female participants struggle with looking at pornography on an ongoing basis.
"There have been dynamic paradigm shifts in the behavior of Christians over the last four years," explained Jones. "Technology [the Internet] has allowed pornography to flood the market place beyond a controllable level." Jones' ministry also includes providing Christian intervention programs for churches and for individuals. All of Second Glance Ministries services are free and recipients may remain anonymous.
"We directed over 100,000 inquiries to Second Glance Ministries in one year," stated ChristiaNet.com's President, Bill Cooper. "We are seeing an escalation to the problem in both men and women who regularly attend church." ChristiaNet.com is committed to addressing the devastating consequences that sexual addictions can have on a family and society by providing a safe environment for blogging discussions and referrals.
ChristiaNet Poll Results
(970 Evangelicals Surveyed)
Female Male Totals T F T F T F . 1. Is homosexuality a sin in God's eyes? 489 18 437 26 926 44 2. Should homosexuals hold positions in the church? 45 462 45 418 90 880 3. Is masturbation a sin in God's eyes? 392 115 352 111 744 226 4. Is masturbation a part of your life? 127 380 190 273 317 653 5. Is sex outside of marriage a sin? 497 10 428 35 925 45 6. Have you taken part in a sexual activity that is sin? 263 244 304 159 567 403 7. Is looking at pornography a sin in God's? 483 24 418 45 901 69 8. Have you ever struggled with pornography? 100 407 229 234 329 641 9. Have you ever struggled with lust? 281 226 356 107 637 333 10. Are Pastors dealing with sexual issues? 305 202 268 195 573 397 11. Have you had sexual sin in your life in the last year? 201 306 265 198 466 504
source: http://christiannews.christianet.com/1154951956.htm 29aug2006
Pop Culture, Religion Finding Ways to Mix
Sacred themes sell; Christians embrace high-tech values
ELAINE JARVIK / Deseret Morning News 10aug2006
Consider the Florida theme park called "The Holy Land Experience," says Mark Pinsky. Or the Evangelical Christian video game "Eternal Forces" or the mega-bestseller "The Da Vinci Code" or Christian romance novels published by Harlequin.
Everywhere you look, says Pinsky, popular culture has gotten religion, and religions are adapting popular culture to serve their own ends. It's a confluence that has changed popular culture, and at the same time has helped Evangelical Christians "hold on to their kids," he says.
Pinsky, a religion journalist and author of "The Gospel According to the Simpsons," spoke Wednesday night at the kick-off event of the 2006 Sunstone Symposium.
Pinsky, whose most recent book is "A Jew Among the Evangelicals: A Guide for the Perplexed," defined himself as a "left-wing Jew" who agrees with Christians who say that much of popular culture is hypersexualized and violent.
To counteract that "toxic" culture, Evangelicals know they can't just forbid their children to watch TV or listen to hip-hop. Instead, they've invented alternative books, music, movies, TV, radio stations, theme parks, computer games and stand-up comedy acts.
There is no category of popular culture — "except porn, so far" — that has not been adapted by Evangelical Christians, Pinsky says. To succeed, though, these need to have high-production value. They've come a long way, he says, from the days when Christian entertainment meant showing Billy Graham studio movies in church basements.
The unintended consequence of all this new media is that they're "providing effective outreach for the unchurched."
At the same time, the secular media has found that including religious themes, plots and characters is profitable, from Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" to HBO's "Big Love." The secular publishing house HarperCollins recently bought up a Christian publishing house, Pinsky noted.
Instead of just doing, at most, one TV series a year that incorporates religions — "Highway to Heaven" or "Touched by an Angel," for example — Hollywood studios "are now salting their TV shows with Christian themes, plots and characters."
In the same way that ensemble television comedies and dramas now often have a "gay character," these shows may soon have "the Christian" as a stock character, Pinsky predicts.
Is this intersection of religion and pop culture irreversible? "I think so," Pinsky says — unless Christian movie producers or the commercial studios "produce a string of high-budget bombs at the box-office."
source: http://deseretnews.com/dn/print/1,1442,645192039,00.html 29aug2006
Before and after 9/11
DIANNE FEELEY / New Socialist Issue #51 – May/June 2005
In the cultural upheaval of the 1960s and ‘70s, while millions of Americans opposed war and marched for desegregation and women’s right to full equality, many others found inspiration in the certainties of their Christian faith. By 1976 a Gallup Poll found one-third of all Americans had experienced a conversion, or a process of being “born again.” The same poll found about half of all Protestants and about a third of all Catholics believed that the Bible was “to be taken literally, word for word.” According to Steve Bruce in “Pray TV: Televangelism in America”, almost 60% of Protestants and 40% of Catholics were evangelical, that is, eager to recruit others to their beliefs. This evangelicalism is not just limited to the printed word, but has led to the establishment of Christian radio and TV, much of which is controlled by the Christian right. In 1986 three of the top eleven Christian shows were hosted by the right-wing evangelicals: Pat Robertson’s 700 Club, Jerry Falwell’s The Old Time Gospel Hour and Jim Bakker’s show.
A survey conducted in the late ‘80s found that among the “baby boomer” generation (people born between 1946-63) one-third accepted the biblical version of creation over evolution and agreed that “temptations are the work of the devil.” Most considered themselves “moderate” but 13% classified themselves as “fundamentalists.” It is this latter grouping that is the cohesive core we can identify as the Christian right.
“Born again” Christians face the same stress and conflicts and are immersed in the same culture as the rest of us. In fact, evangelicals have a slightly higher divorce rate than the general population. And although the religious right opposes abortion under any circumstance, one out of six women who have an abortion considers herself a “born again” Christian.
In fact, some of these women have created their own niche in the anti-abortion movement. “Silent No More” groups began to emulate pro-choice speakouts by testifying about abortions they now regret. At one recent public event there was a display of baby shoes labeled with the names of the unborn. These women have also testified at various public hearings against abortion and claim it is a dangerous procedure that can lead to cancer. When reporters point out that no scientific proof supports this assertion they reply that the scientific “establishment” can’t tell the truth because of the liberal stranglehold over society!
CULTURAL UPHEAVAL AND US PROTESTANTISM
Throughout US history important social tensions have played out through religion. One cannot understand the Salem witch trials or the battles over slavery and women’s rights without studying the development of US Protestantism. Over the course of the 19th century dominant US Christian religions replaced the Calvinist notion of the sinner being helpless before God and predetermined for either goodness or evil, with one in which individual choice was central. The individual could choose to respond to God’s plan of salvation by adjusting to social change rather than fighting to preserve the old ways. With few possessions and one’s Bible, youth would leave the family farm and head for new opportunities. In this new world hard work and thrift would lead to success and therefore good standing in the eyes of God. The reality, of course, was far more complex. Indeed, alcoholism became a widespread social problem as the growing work force attempted to adjust to the new rhythms of industrial and urban life. By the late 19th century a new form of Protestantism arose: fundamentalism. Its roots were in the populist movement but it, like many 19th century populists, quickly became conservative. This brand of conservative Protestantism proudly defined God’s chosen people as white Anglo-Saxons. Early fundamentalist preachers such as Billy Sunday were convinced that American social and political structures were superior because they had been built by God’s chosen people. Thus fundamentalism justified imperialism.
Along with the even greater emphasis on reading the Bible, fundamentalists have been preoccupied with pinpointing the end of the world. There are a variety of opinions about when and how Christ’s second coming will occur, but most believe God has divided human history into several ages, or “dispensations.” According to this line of thinking, we are living in the final stage, where current events like earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, wars, political crises and social decay are all warnings from God. Indeed, both the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the 1967 Six-Day War, in which Israel seized East Jerusalem and the West Bank, are viewed as signs that the end is near. For that reason most US fundamentalist Christians are staunchly pro-Zionist.
Since the 1950s the more moderate Protestant denominations have declined as the theologically conservative ones grew dramatically. Part of the reason for this continuous growth of fundamentalism is its aggressive proselytizing, and its claims to have answers to both the alienation, isolation and commodification in modern capitalist society, as well as the changing role of the family. Within the fundamentalist community there are supportive institutions in which one’s family can flourish safe from the chaos and conflict outside. This siege mentality fuels political activism and is driven by the need to accomplish one’s work before the millennium brings such possibilities to a close. Funda-mentalists view themselves as a beleaguered group under attack by the establishment, who stands before them as a Goliath in opposition to their role as David.
The specific evangelical churches that are the fastest growing are the ones which are the most adaptive, with worship services that use popular rock music, have casual dress codes and cater to youth, newlyweds and singles. Mark Shibley, a sociologist of religion, concluded that these are growing because they have become more like the surrounding culture, not less. These evangelicals are undoubtedly a less supportive subculture for the Christian Right than the more fundamental evangelical ones.
WHAT THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT WANTS
Christian fundamentalists are backed by a whole range of institutions and organizations, from private schools and home schooling networks to Bible Institutes, colleges, radio and TV programs, publishing houses and legal centers dedicated to advancing a conservative agenda. (Note: Home schooling is not just a project of the fundamentalists, but they have built a network of fundamentalist educational materials that reinforce their specific views.) The Christian Right demands society accept and conform to its notion of what it means to be a good family and a good citizen in God’s kingdom. It is a social, political and religious movement that wants the government to regulate and maintain traditional hierarchical relations between men and women and between parents and children. It sees the role of the state as enforcer of “moral” (read: sexual) behavior. That’s why the right of homosexuals to marry represents to them the beginning of the end of society. They ask, “what next? Polygamy? Bestiality?”
Yet, from this perspective, poverty is seen not as a moral issue but as the result of individual bad luck or bad behavior. Because the Christian Right views hierarchy as natural and positive, it is not bothered by inequalities of wealth and power. The Bush administration has attempted to alter domestic government programs that aid poor or low-wage working families by funding “faith-based” solutions to various social problems. This has enabled the administration to privatize services, reward its conservative religious base, reach out to other church-based programs and hook them into the network as well as fund particular right-wing approaches to social issues. Sexual education programs advocate abstinence. After-school reading and math programs teach specific skills that reflect the kinds of tests the “No Child Left Behind” legislation mandates. And the “faith-based” programs successfully compete with the community-service programs that already have a proven track record in terms of social service provision.
According to Sara Diamond, who has followed the evangelical Right for years, the Christian Right can be considered partly oppositional and partly system-supportive. It is oppositional to mass culture, which explains why the United States has such sharp culture wars. But it glorifies America’s past and more or less supports its present economic system. However, even though it “accepts” that America and its social institutions are good, this provincial nationalism does not coincide with Corporate America’s globalization project -even if Christian fundamentalist support to Israel reinforces US policy in the Middle East. Thus there is an inherent contradiction in its alliance with the Republican Party.
According to the Christian Right, one of the big problems in society today is a lack of religion. In 1980 Tim LaHaye, a founder of the Moral Majority, published The Battle for the Mind. Widely circulated, this book explains that there is a vast conspiracy involving Hollywood movie producers, Unitarian churches, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). From a Christian right perspective, these opinion-shapers are out to harm Bible believers because they deny God’s sovereignty. That is, moral conditions become worse because of people’s attempts to solve their problems independently of God. Ultimately, it is the “secular humanists” who are causing the problem.
To fix the problems of society, then, requires the “moral majority” getting involved in the electoral process and taking charge, either as candidates or as workers assisting the right kind of candidate. The Christian Right first developed several single-issue campaigns against the Equal Rights Amendment and against the liberalization of abortion. It also developed a network of organizations and Christian schools out of opposition to desegregation orders.
The Christian Right developed a “hit list” of congressmen who it felt were particularly anti-Christian, anti-family and against ‘traditional values’. By 1982, as a result of the combined efforts of the New Right and the Christian Right, two million new voters went to the polls. Not only was Ronald Reagan elected president, with white fundamentalists accounting for two-thirds of his lead, but 23 out of 27 oppositional congressmen targeted by the fundamentalists lost.
However, the Christian Right didn’t manage to get much from the Reagan and Bush I tenure. Instead they were drawn into supporting right-wing military regimes in Central America. Not only did the Christian Right identify with these regimes because they carried out their repression under an anti-communist banner, but right-wing evangelicals such as Guatemala’s Rios Montt led the military command. The Christian Right mobilized their constituency through publications and media programming, justifying death squads in Guatemala and El Salvador and terrorist contras in opposition to the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. They were so eager to collaborate with the White House in this anti-communist crusade that the battle for family values was relegated to state and local fights.
However the local skirmishes had important national repercussions. These included defeat of the federal Equal Rights Amendment, where only 35 out of the necessary 38 states ratified the amendment before the deadline, as well as hundreds of legislative restrictions on abortion.
During the 1980s grassroots anti-abortionists developed several dozen clinics that advertised themselves as abortion referral services and offered free pregnancy tests. While women waited for their results, they were forced to watch a presentation about the alleged dangers of abortion. Several women filed lawsuits and the clinics were forced to cease their false advertising. Today, a network of about 3,000 “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” advertising as abortion alternatives rely on their powers of persuasion and narrowly circumscribed ‘help’ which includes: offering free pregnancy tests, legal and medical advice, adoption information, and infant and maternity clothes. At least a third are operated by two umbrella organizations, one Catholic and one Protestant.
But if one section of the anti-abortion movement was willing to put energy into manipulating pregnant women, and another larger grouping was willing to lobby to restrict abortion at the state level, still another strategy included direct action.
As soon as abortion was legalized in 1973, anti-abortionists developed a series of harassment tactics. These included picketing hospitals and clinics, where the bulk of all abortions were performed, and harassing clinic personnel by following them home, distributing flyers to their neighbors, or picketing their houses. Joseph Scheidler, a Catholic from Chicago, developed the tactic of deploying “sidewalk counselors”-people who would attempt to convince any woman walking into the clinic not to have an abortion. But with the founding of Operation Rescue in 1986 by Randall Terry, a graduate of the Pentecostal Elim Bible Institute and a used car salesman, Catholic dominance of the anti-abortion movement dissolved. By 1990 Time magazine estimated that anti-abortion activists were two-thirds evangelicals and one-third Catholic.
Operation Rescue gained national publicity in the summer of 1988 with its four-month siege of Atlanta, during which over 1200 people were arrested. Staged to coincide with the Democratic Party’s national convention in Atlanta, the action galvanized clinic blockades across the country. But the publicity also sparked pro-choice mobilizations and injunctions to bar the “rescuers” from blockading and entering clinics. Between 1988-90 there were more than 400 blockades. By 1991-93 the number had fallen to 170 although there was an increase in incidents of property damage, hate mail and harassing phone calls. Finding the strategy of mass arrests difficult to sustain and having lost a lawsuit brought by the National Organization for Women, Operation Rescue (OR) activists switched to a “No Place to Hide” campaign, targeting doctors who performed abortions.
The campaign developed “Wanted” Posters that contained a photograph of the doctor and detailed her/his daily activities. The inflammatory rhetoric about doctors being “baby killers” eventually culminated in the murder of five clinic personnel in 1992-93. However, the murders and subsequent public reaction prodded Congress into passing the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act in 1993. Previously, doctors who performed abortions were usually forced to take elaborate precautions to ensure their safety. But as public opinion reacted sharply against the murders, and as clinic violence was now made a federal offense, attacks on clinics slowly declined.
STRATEGIES AND EXPERTISE
The Christian Coalition, under the leadership of Ralph Reed, created a network of local fundamentalist activists. Through its annual Road to Victory conferences it trained them in the nuts-and-bolts techniques of organizing. The Coalition stressed working at the precinct level to get a majority of Christian conservatives elected as delegates to their state Republican parties. They aimed to run for city councils, school boards and state legislatures.
The Coalition also encouraged its members to work within other conservative organizations. Most important has been the Concerned Women for America, founded by Beverly LaHaye in 1979. She organized women into prayer chapters first to oppose passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and then later to become “kitchen table lobbyists.” By 1991 they worked hard to win Clarence Thomas’ confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, cheering him on when he arrived in the Senate hearing room to testify. They also lobbied for Congressional passage of the Defense of Marriage Act, which allows states to deny the legality of gay marriages (1996).
Another leading organization is the Family Research Council (FRC) headed by Gary Bauer, a domestic policy adviser for Reagan who served as undersecretary in the Department of Education. By the mid-1990s the Council had a mailing list of 250,000, a staff of seventy and a budget of $10 million. Bauer’s FRC works closely with Dr. Dobson’s Focus on the Family. The two organizations provide congresspeople with research on “pro-family” issues.
By the 1992 Republican Party convention, an estimated 47% of the delegates described themselves as “born again” Christians. Of the 2,000 delegates, 300 were members of the Christian Coalition. They secured, over the objection of other delegates, a party platform demanding a ban on all abortions, opposing civil rights for gays and lesbians, calling on the government to stop the sale of pornography and to condemn “obscene” art. The platform also endorsed school prayer and home schooling and opposed making contraceptives available in public schools.
Bush’s defeat that November was widely perceived as a rejection of that religious war. But without the support of the Christian right – indeed, the Christian Coalition distributed forty million voter guides to 246,000 churches – Republicans would have suffered even greater defeat, for according to Reed, evangelicals provided 46% of Bush’s total vote.
THE CLINTON ERA
The Republican Party, with much help from the Christian Right, was able to defeat some of Clinton’s earliest and most important proposals and delayed or sabotaged his appointments. Most importantly, despite the fact that Clinton carefully avoided a single-payer health care plan, the Christian Right worked hard to defeat his so-called reform. The victories of the Christian Right showed that they had the capacity to work around issues without seeming to appear too dogmatic.
The 1994 elections were an incredible breakthrough for the Christian Right. In a midterm election, where turnout is generally low, they probably mobilized four million activists and reached 50 million voters. Exit polls revealed that about 25% of those who voted were white evangelicals, 70% of whom voted Republican. Congressional candidates backed by the Christian Coalition won 55% of their campaigns and fully 25% of the elected first-term representatives were members of evangelical churches.
The Republican agenda was the “Contract with America”. Although this 10-point Contract didn’t seem to have the fingerprints of the Christian right all over it, Ralph Reed detailed the behind-the-scenes negotiations over its provisions in his 1995 book, Active Faith. While Reed originally raised three proposals to be included-parental choice legislation around abortion, a permanent ban on taxpayer funding on abortion and a tax cut for families with children – Newt Gingrich explained that his goal was to have the Contract signed by all incumbent Republicans. Therefore, abortion and “other contentious issues” would have to be put on the back burner.
Reed reluctantly agreed provided the Republicans move quickly on the tax cut and work on social issues after the first hundred days in office. That is, the leaders of the Christian fundamentalist movement were willing to bide their time in building up alliances that would eventually lead to their demands.
THE 21ST CENTURY
With two decades of organizing experience, and having won some clear victories, the Christian Right nonetheless feels dissatisfied with its lack of results. They had become the backbone of the Republican Party, but were confined-constantly told to behave themselves and unable to achieve what they wanted. Having gained a place in the Republican Party, they have not been able to move their agenda forward.
They are not content with winning referendums opposing gay marriage in an environment where lesbians and gays are more accepted in US society than ever before. Despite Senator John Kerry’s assertions that “abortion should be the rarest thing in the world”, they still know that however circumscribed by restrictions, abortion is still legal. One of their very own people, John Ashcroft, was US Attorney General for four years, yet the Roe v. Wade ruling remains in force. The ranks of the Christian right are asking themselves: What kind of “power” is this?
9/11 brought a sea change to US politics. Fighting “the war on terror” (not the issues of abortion, evolution and gay rights) elected Bush II in 2004. That election has scared the liberal mainstream even further, opening up even more space for the Christian Right to inhabit. Today, with the Republicans entrenched as the ruling party and multiple Supreme Court appointments likely pending, the fundamentalists feel truly empowered to advance an openly anti-feminist, anti-secular and especially anti-Muslim agenda. Time will tell how aggressively, and with what success, they press their demands on Congress and the Bush regime.
SIDEBAR: Has the Christian Right overplayed its hand in the Terri Schiavo case?
Terri’s parents asked Randall Terry [founder of anti-choice group Operation Rescue-NS] to act as their spokesperson and mobilize support in front of the nursing home. But the expected crowd never materialized. Anti-abortion zealots were interviewed at the site, but the size of the vigils peaked at roughly 100. Terri’s parents asked them to leave a few days before her death. Perhaps they were an embarrassment.
At first, the media spun the case in a way that associated it with the Christian Right crusade “for life”. But within a week, reporters shifted their focus to how the case was a personal tragedy for the people involved and not part of a Christian Right cause.
In Congress, politicians repeatedly denounced the judiciary for accepting the findings of neurologists and granting Michael Schiavo’s request not to prolong Terri’s life. But the law they passed didn’t stop the courts.
The Christian Right used the Terri Schiavo case to try to convince the population that the legal system is out of control and must be reigned in. The most prized target is the US Supreme Court, which has trimmed women’s right to abortion over the last thirty years without actually banning it. The right feels it has earned the ability to influence public policy, but it does not see its agenda being implemented. This frustration and impatience is hopefully the sign of its coming downfall.
Dianne Feeley is an editor of the bi-monthly socialist magazine, Against the Current, and a member of US socialist group Solidarity.
source: http://newsocialist.org/newsite/index.php?id=244 29aug2006